Lawmakers Seek To Repeal Eugenics Law;
Researchers Find Deaths Linked To Sterilizations
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 21, 2003
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA--The North Carolina legislature acted this week to repeal a law that allowed 7,600 people to be sterilized against their will during the last century.
The law gave the state's Eugenics Board authority to order sterilizations for people who had mental retardation, mental illness, or other disabilities under the later-discredited belief that they would pass their "problems" on to their children and society in general.
North Carolina's law has been in effect since 1929, but has not been used since 1974. Some of those forced to undergo sterilization were children as young as 10 years of age. During the 1960s, most of those sterilized in the state were young black women.
In December, Governor Mike Easley became the third governor to apologize for a state's role in forced sterilizations. Last week he set up a committee to investigate the eugenics program and consider reparations for the victims.
In a related story, the Winston-Salem Journal reported that a review of just 183 sterilization procedures resulted in three deaths.
During the 1930s a "single white female, age 21 years, died from post-operative intestinal obstruction ten days after" her sterilization operation, a 30-year-old married woman died two days after her operation, and a 17-year-old girl died from "locked bowels" five months after her surgery.
A researcher noted that three deaths in that relatively small group would have been an extremely high rate for such a procedure.